The Legislature is being applauded for offering “huge” raises of roughly 25 percent to state workers. While I certainly support public workers receiving a hefty raise to lift them out of poverty (which currently gives them incentive to be corrupt), it is not the “huge” pay raise that people think it is.
When I use the inflation calculator available on the Bureau of Labor’s website, I see that state workers have lost 19.5 percent of their buying power in four years. This means that 19.5 percent of that pay increase is just to regain buying power lost since 2019. So this “huge” increase is actually a net increase of 5.5 percent. I’m not so sure that will even outpace this year’s inflation. So, as I see it, state workers are only going to break even if that “huge” raise is passed.
Somebody recently submitted a letter to the editor saying that private industry workers could only dream of a raise like that. Well, I’m seeing Verizon workers raised to $20 an hour to sell cellphones, Panda Express pays workers $16 an hour to slop food onto a plate and Target’s minimum wage now ranges from $15 to $24 to hang up clothes (a first-year state trooper makes only $2 more per hour). And these are just unskilled labor jobs. Many state positions require bachelor degrees.
So while it seems unfair at first glance, private industry seems to be doing just fine, if not better, than the public sector. And with inflation considered, state employees would need 30 percent for it to actually be a raise.